How to grow peas
Find out how to sow and grow your own peas, in this practical Grow Guide.
Forget about frozen peas, nothing compares with the super-sweet flavour of freshly harvested, tender, home-grown peas. Apart from the taste, they’re an attractive crop to grow and won’t take up too much space.
How to grow peas at home
Plant peas 3cm deep in fertile ground, from spring to midsummer. Stake young plants with pea sticks to support their growth, and feed weekly with a high-potash fertiliser, once flowers appear. Harvest peas after around three months.
Growing peas: jump links
- Sowing and planting peas
- Harvesting peas
- Growing peas: pests and problem solving
- Where to buy peas
- Pea varieties to grow
More on growing peas:
How to grow peas from seed
Sow peas between March and early July. For earlier crops that are ready from May onwards, sow in autumn or late winter (bear in mind you may experience losses from cold weather or mice).
Choose a sunny, well-drained spot. Dig in plenty of garden compost, well-rotted manure or mushroom compost before sowing to improve the soil.
Use a hoe or spade to make a shallow trench, roughly 22cm wide and 3cm deep. Sow peas in two parallel lines, spacing the seeds about 10cm apart. Cover the seeds with soil, water well and label the row. The seedlings should appear in one or two weeks.
Alternatively, start plants indoors in autumn to avoid seeds being eaten by pests. An easy way to ensure you end up with a straight row is to sow into a length of guttering.
How to sow pea seeds indoors
An alternative to sowing peas outdoors is to raise plants under cover. You can then plant them out as soon as space becomes available, and there’s less risk of mice or other pests leaving gaps in your rows. One of the easiest methods is to sow the seeds in a length of guttering, then simply slide the whole row into the ground once the plants are big enough.
How to plant out peas
To stop plants flopping about on the ground, put supports in place while they’re still young. Peas climb using pea shoots called tendrils, which they wrap around just about anything they come into contact with, so choose supports that are thin enough for the tendrils to wind around. Large twigs, known as pea sticks, are the traditional choice, but a row of netting makes a good alternative.
Watch Monty plant out peas in this Gardeners' World clip, and find out which plant supports he recommends:
How to harvest peas
Peas should be ready to harvest about three months after sowing. Harvest mangetout varieties when they're just beginning to show signs of peas forming inside the pods. Other types are ready once the pods are swollen with peas.
More like this
Pick the pods from the bottom of the plant upwards, as the lowest are the most mature. Use two hands to avoid damaging the plant.
How to store peas
Peas have the best flavour if they’re picked and used straight away, but they'll keep for a week in the salad compartment of a fridge. If you have a glut, you can freeze them.
How to prepare and use peas
Looking for inspiration on how to use your crop? Our friends at olive have curated a delicious collection of pea recipes, including their colourful seared salmon with pea puree.
Growing peas: problem solving
Pea moth can lead to an unpleasant infestation of maggots, but the risk is reduced if you sow early (October to mid-February) or late (June and July). You can also cover the crop with horticultural fleece or fine mesh as soon as you transplant the seedlings or see them emerge.
Advice on buying peas
- There are lots of pea varieties available, from dwarf-height plants to those that grow over 2m tall. What's more, different varieties can be sown at different times of year, so make sure you buy the right pea for your plot and season
- Pea seed are available from a wide range of garden centres and nurseries, online retailers and even supermarkets. If you want to save time you could invest in pea plugs, which are available from some of the larger retailers
- Check seeds for signs of mould and/or softness, and plants for signs of damage or pests. Only grow the healthiest specimens for the best crops
Where to buy peas online
Great pea varieties to grow
- ‘Canoe’ – long, curved pods with tender, sweet-tasting peas
- ‘Greensage’ – heavy cropper, peas are tender and sweet
- ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ – early dwarf variety with sweet, tender peas. A prolific cropper
- ‘Purple Podded’ – showy purple pods and medium-sweet peas, heritage variety
- ‘Show Perfection’ – good yields, sweet peas